Fiji carols with Aussie mince tarts
If you've been reading my blog for a year or two, you may be expecting both a recipe and Christmas music from Fiji this December. You'll still get a Fijian choir, but this year I'm sharing an Australian recipe for traditional British fruit mince pies or tarts. Recently a reader from New York State told me mince pies are no longer a staple Christmas dish in the United States. He recalled his grandmother made one at Thanksgiving and another at Christmas.
'One?' I asked. In Australia mince pies are little; we use a standard 12-patty tin to bake them. That way we always have room for another! My mother held that each mince pie you ate in someone else's home gave you a happy month in the coming year. To ensure a happy year, a strategy of dainty mince pies and lots of Christmas visits should be followed. The strategy will certainly bring a happy Christmas, whatever happens in the new year!
Fruit mince pies are still very popular in Australia, and to my horror, appeared in my supermarket before the end of September this year. They're a top favourite Christmas treat for me and all the better for strictly seasonal indulgence. While Fijians do love pastry, mince pies haven't caught on there because the filling is made from imported dried fruit, which even if obtainable is prohibitively expensive for most.
Why not listen to music while you make your Christmas mince pies? Here is 'O, Holy Night' sung by a village church choir in the hills inland from Suva, the capital of Fiji.
Some singers may be shy and the production may lack polish but I think you'll be touched by the villagers' desire to bring their message to you.
Aussie little mince pies (or tarts)
Here's a tried-and-tested traditional recipe, which I've modified from The Margaret Fulton Cookbook of 1969. It's easy, I promise!
A. Fruit mince:
(You can buy bottled fruit mince but it's not as good as this simple recipe.)
185g raisins, 125g sultanas, 125g mixed peel, 125g currants, 35g glace cherries, 65g blanched almonds, 2 cups brown sugar, 450g peeled apples, 1 lemon, 1 sm orange, 2tsp mixed spice, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 125g melted butter, 40ml brandy.
1. Chop fruit or put through mincer
2. Stir in sugar, grated citrus rind, juice of 1 lemon,, spices, butter and brandy.
3. Put in container in fridge and stir daily for 1 week. Mince can be kept in fridge for a few weeks.
B. Biscuit pastry
(You can buy packaged shortcrust pastry and follow instructions on packet)
185g butter, 1/2 cup caster sugar, 1 egg, 2.5 cups plain flour, 1/2 tsp baking powder, fruit mince (recipe above), icing sugar
1. Cream butter and sugar well.
2. Add egg and beat well.
3. Sift flour with baking powder and stir into butter mixture.
4. Knead lightly on floured board.
5. Chill for 1 hour, roll out thinly and cut into rounds to fit patty tins.
6. Cut the same number of smaller circles for pie lids (or cut small stars or other shapes)
7. Line greased patty tins with larger circles.
8. Moisten edges with beaten egg and put 1 heaped tsp of fruit mince into each.
9. Make small slit in each lid or use a star-cutter as illustrated.
10. Top each pie with lid (press edge to seal) or star shape
11. Glaze with beaten egg.
12. Cook in a moderate oven (180 degrees C) for 20-25 mins until pale brown.
13. Remove from oven and dust with icing sugar.
I wish all readers a merry Christmas, health and happiness in 2023!
I look forward to hearing from you!